Building regulations explained

What are building regulations?

The building regulations lay down health and safety standards for the construction of all types of building work, including new build, extensions, internal alterations, underpinning, cavity wall insulation and change of use.

The 1666 Great Fire of London is very prominent in this country's history because of the lack of control over building construction. This tragedy gave rise to district surveyors who could control building work and consequently save lives.

The role has developed out of necessity over the centuries into the widely recognised and respected building control profession of today. Indeed, the building regulations and the building control surveyors of this country are well respected around the world.

Although Local Authority Building Control is by far the largest building control organisation in the country, with around 4,000 staff operating from approximately 360 offices, we now operate in a healthy, competitive, open market with Approved Inspectors in the private sector.

Consequently, we do all we can to maintain the quality and efficiency of our service and to ensure customer care.

If, for whatever reason, the approved inspectors work is not completed it reverts back to the Local Authority Building Control to ensure the necessary standards are achieved to maintain health and safety in the borough.

A building regulation application will be required for

You will need to apply for building regulation approval if work includes:

  • The erection or extension of a building
  • The installation of a new wc or bathroom that involves new waste pipes or underground drainage
  • The installation of a gas or solid fuel appliance (unless the work is supervised by an approved installer)
  • The conversion of a house to flats or vice-versa
  • General internal structural alterations e.g. the removal of loadbearing walls
  • Internal alterations affecting means of escape in case of fire
  • Conversion of loft space in dwellings
  • Replacement glazing in doors and/or windows in dwellings (unless supervised by competent body)
  • Fitting replacement roof coverings that are heavier/lighter in weight than the existing covering or where more than 25% of the roof covering is being replaced
  • Changing the use of certain buildings
  • Installation/testing of electrical installations in dwellings (unless supervised by Competent Body)
  • Underpinning of foundations
  • Renovation works where more that 25% of any thermal element is being effecte
  • Micro renewables (see householder renewable energy)

Approved documents

Building regulations are constantly being updated. There are a number of approved documents provided by the government which give guidance on methods of showing compliance. See Planning Portal: Approved documents


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